I’m a firm believer in trying new vegetables whenever I can. This past winter I was on a bit of a brussels sprouts kick and thoroughly enjoyed myself. One of my favorite grocery stores is Trader Joes, but I usually have to go out of the way to get there. In the interim, I’m stuck with my consistently understocked friendly chain grocery store which, for some reason, seems to be able to stock the finest chia seeds and assorted soups, but no fresh dill or rosemary #gentrificationbelike.
On one of my visits, I randomly spotted a spaghetti squash hanging out in a basket. It was solo, and one of those situations where I literally thought I’d seen a unicorn. After I was able to gather myself from some old lady staring at me post squeal, I grabbed this gourd and held onto it like Gollum from “The Lord of The Rings” series. I was so excited to go home and cook this!
Did you know that spaghetti squash is significantly lower in calories than regular pasta (coming in at about 20-30 calories per cup), high in beta carotene which helps your eyesight, and loaded with potassium? #superfood. Here’s my take on traditional spaghetti and meatballs with half the calories and all the comfort.
1 whole spaghetti squash
Half cup of Parmesan cheese
1 lbs ground Turkey
2 Cups chopped spinach
Half cup of crumbled Feta cheese
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Celsius. With a fork, poke holes along the length of the squash on either side and pop into the microwave for about 3-4 minutes. This helps soften the outer layer a little bit so that you are able to cut into it.
Take it out and rest for one minute to cool. Cut across lengthwise to expose the cavity.
With a fork or spoon, scrape out the cavity with the stringy center and seeds. The seeds can double as snacks later if you toss them in olive oil, salt them lightly and roast for about 20 minutes.
Now that the cavity is bare, drizzle over some olive oil, a little bit of salt and some cracked black pepper. Place cavity side down on a baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until a fork pierced through goes in easily.
Prepare your meatballs by simply combining the ground turkey, with the spinach , Feta and seasoning of your choice. To keep this healthy, I lightly seasoned with some salt and salt-free ‘Mrs. Dash” seasoning and smoked paprika. Feel free to season your meats as you wish. Don’t over work your meat, this will make for a tough chewy meatball. You’ll notice that I did not add any breadcrumbs or eggs to this recipe. These are typical “binding” ingredients in meatballs, and I personally find them unnecessary for holding things together.
Once all the ingredients are combined, create even sized meatballs with the help of a spoon or ice cream scoop.
If you make meatballs often you’ll want to have a scoop separate from your ice ream scoop so you don’t run the risk of cross contamination down the line.
In a heated skillet, sear your meatballs for about 2-3 minutes on each side. If your skillet is oven proof, place it in the oven to finish off for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, transfer your seared meatballs to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Turn off your oven and take out your spaghetti squash and meatballs. Let the squash cool down or for a few minutes until it’s safe to handle. With a fork, run the prongs inside of the cavity to form the “spaghetti” strings and combine with your Parmesan while still warm.
Plate with your meatballs on top and a little drizzle of olive oil if you’d like.
There you have it! healthy meatballs and spaghetti, with half the calories and none of the guilt.
Originally appeared on MadameNoire.com by Theresa Ukpo.